Tribal Trouble is a downloadable real-time strategy game for Windows, Mac or Linux. Compared to most RTS games, Tribal Trouble is easy to learn and to pick-up and play, yet it still offers a deep strategy that takes time to master. The game, created by Oddlabs, has earned many words of praise, including being a finalist for an IGF award for technical excellence, a spot on Game Tunnel's Top Indie Games of the Year list, and some impressive sales and downloads statistics.
The story may sound serious, but the tone of Tribal Trouble is quite light-hearted: A group of vikings were sailing the South Seas when they crashed near a set of small islands. As vikings are apt to do, pillaging and plundering quickly ensued. Of course the native islanders weren't too pleased with these newcomers and their looting, so they picked up spears and stood their ground, competing with the foreigners for land, resources, and their lives.
Nearly everything in Tribal Trouble is based on gathering and using four main resources: wood, rock, iron and chicken. Yes, chickens are a resource. You can build the game's three basic structures right off the bat and never have to worry about upgrading them later on. Peons even harvest the materials automatically. This lets you jump right into the game without having to worry about managing statistics early on.
After settling in you'll want to amass an army to defend yourself and/or conquer your foes. Tribal Trouble simplifies all of these tasks into one central hub: the Armory. Once you build this structure everything you need to create warriors is just a few clicks away. Fill the Armory with peons, click on the building and start giving orders. First you'll need to send workers out to gather resources. Then, turn those resources into weapons that will go into the hands of your trained warriors.
A major part of the strategy in the game is deciding where to allocate your peons and which resources to hoard. Wood is the most abundant but produces the weakest warriors. Chicken is the most difficult resource to find but, surprisingly, will create a powerful fighter.
Tribal Trouble offers three modes of play: a single-player campaign, online multiplayer, and a solo battle mode. Campaign includes dozens of unique missions for both the vikings and natives and will keep you busy for quite some time. The real fun begins when you take your tribal troublings online and battle against players from around the world.
Analysis: As a genre, real-time strategy games are notoriously time-consuming. It can take hours just to learn how to play, and missions can devour whole afternoons. As a self-confessed gamer-gone-casual, I've gradually turned away from these games simply because I don't want to invest so much time into them. But along comes Tribal Trouble and breaks some of those conventions. It manages to gather most of the strategic elements from RTS games without all the complexities.
Tribal Trouble's interface is very clean and easy to use. Every action has a corresponding icon and keyboard shortcut, great for beginners and experienced players alike. I was impressed by the fluid camera controls that let me do everything from tilt, rotate and seamlessly zoom with the touch of a button. There's nothing like pulling the camera behind my warrior's shoulders when they move in for the attack.
On the down side, Tribal Trouble does suffer from a few minor issues. When you order peons to gather materials, they'll strike out across the island to find what they need, even if that means walking right into an enemy's camp. Then you're forced to deal with the inevitable attack. And if too many peons are assigned to one task they'll clump in useless groups rather than spread out to get more work done. There are a few annoyances of this nature, but nothing you won't quickly learn to work around.
Tribal Trouble should satisfy most RTS fans but is especially well-suited for casual gamers. The game has a lot of little perks and ends up being just plain fun. No serious real-time strategizing, no losing sleep over missions, just a few vikings and a few native islanders duking it out with spears made out of chickens.
[Jay adds: Tribal Trouble is an excellent casual game and one that we highly recommend. It is also a game from which we will benefit when you purchase the full version. These sponsored game reviews provide us a way of informing you about the best downloadable casual games available, while giving you another way to help support this site via your purchase. We will continue to provide sponsored reviews only for games we emphatically endorse.]